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ORC issues warning about uncontrolled outdoor burning

The Alexandra/Clyde basin


August 9, 2013

ORC issues warning about uncontrolled outdoor burning

The Otago Regional Council is reminding landowners in Central Otago that the existence of an open fire season does not entitle them to burn rubbish indiscriminately.

Large clouds of smoke from a spate of uncontrolled burnoffs in the Alexandra-Clyde areas in recent days have been captured in an active inversion layer.

ORC director regional services Jeff Donaldson said this was the result of orchardists and lifestyle block owners topping trees and burning the rubbish on their properties.

Mr Donaldson said the council’s ORC hotline had received 15 complaints about uncontrolled outdoor burning in the past month – just under half the number of complaints (34) received for outdoor burning for Central Otago in all of 2012-13.

An open burning season is in effect in the urban and rural fire districts of Central Otago, except in those areas within a radius of 1 kilometre from Department of Conservation land and Naseby Forest.

Permits to burn in these fire safety margins are still required and must be obtained from the Rural Fire Authority for the relevant area.

During burning operations smoke must not become a traffic hazard or nuisance.

ORC’s Air Plan requires people lighting fires to ensure that any discharge of smoke, odour, or particulate matter is not offensive or objectionable at or beyond the boundary of the property.

Landowners needed to factor in prevailing wind conditions when deciding whether to light an outdoor fire, Mr Donaldson said.

"People thinking of burning autumn prunings also must be aware that when there are still conditions, it's likely to be accompanied by a low inversion layer. The smoke will be trapped under the inversion and may well cause a nuisance to neighbours."

ORC will investigate the recent complaints, which could result in instant fines of $300 being imposed, and possibly further enforcement action, depending on the severity of the incident.

“With reasonably heavy atmospheric conditions and a low inversion layer you don’t get dispersion, all you get is smoke which lingers and pollutes the air. This hazard is disturbing to many in the community and wrecks Central Otago’s open sky brand, which draws many people into the area,” Mr Donaldson said.

Landowners should also not burn prohibited items such as plastics, rubber, and certain chemicals, among others, he said.


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